Privacy Double Standards: “Get Over It”

Guest Post: Ashley Wynstra, Media Commentator

As a society, we constantly critique celebrities because they’re public figures. They don’t get to complain about having their privacy invaded because that’s what they get for being rich and famous. We convince ourselves that it’s only fair to treat them as second-class citizens in the media because we simultaneously worship them in person. The same can be said for people we consider “scum.” People who have violated moral codes and societal rules aren’t seen as our equals when it comes to ethics. We don’t care about protecting the people who aren’t in the same class as us. When they have the audacity to complain about not having their privacy protected, we have one response:

“Get over it.”

If you Google the Ashley Madison hack, the top searches discuss which public figures were involved, the aftermath of the revelation of users, and details about the security breach. There’s no mention about the invasion of privacy. Why?

“Get over it.”


Source: Static Flickr

Imagine waking up one morning and finding 100+ Facebook notifications. Your name is trending on Twitter and you’ve made national headlines. Your personal life is now under intense scrutiny and when you try to speak up to protect your privacy, you’re met with three words.

“Get over it.”

The intentions of the website Ashley Madison is another issue in and of itself. You might disagree with its purpose, but you can’t deny that rights were violated. Several individuals who lost their privacy killed themselves. Others were blackmailed. One town lost its mayor. These individuals made life choices that the majority of society disagrees with, and now they’re no longer considered part of the community, so we don’t protect them. There’s a double standard.

“Get over it.”

People were furious when the FBI asked Apple to unlock a terrorist’s cell phone because it might threaten the privacy of everyone else in the future. But how do we respond to the violation of privacy that we so strongly protect for ourselves when it doesn’t involve us?

“Get over it.”

We have a responsibility to protect everyone’s rights, regardless of their personal life choices. Those life choices never should have been revealed to begin with. As a community, we are not better off knowing who joined a website that encouraged affairs.

“Get over it.”


Facebook: Tech Giant or World’s Largest Aggregator?

Guest Post: Ellery Fry, Media Critic

Aligning loyalties should reflect someone’s ethical values.  However, there is a heightened standard for the media and news outlets. This heightened need of loyalties comes to a conflict when looking at Facebook. Facebook considers themselves a tech company but to most users and other critics, they can be argued as the world’s largest media aggregator.  Given this responsibility, Facebook runs into conflicting loyalties on what they should do about censorship. Facebook recently censored the Terror of War Napalm Girl photo from a users post. A Norwegian author who wanted to share the Pulitizer-prize winning photo, by Nick Ut, on the media site was the user who uploaded the image.


Photo Credit:”The Terror of War by Nick Ut

Facebook however, did not see the photo as artistic, historical or meaningful. Based on Facebook’s initial censorship process and loyalty to provide users with an appropriate feed, the tech company removed the post. Facebook initially saw their loyalty to providing an appropriate feed as more important than conveying the historical and artistic nature of these photos.

After a few days of controversy after the post was taken down, Facebook reinstated the photo and released a statement that stated, “We recognize the history and global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time.” Another statement read, “Because of its status as an iconic image of historical importance, the value of permitting sharing outweighs the value of protecting the community by removal.”

Facebook needs to work on finding a golden mean in their censorship policy. Where can the line be drawn with censorship? What can be argued as artistic? What is obscenity? All of these questions make it hard for Facebook to keep their loyalties uncrossed.

Going forward, Facebook said they will “adjust [their] review mechanisms” to allow this photo to be shared in the future.

Is this enough?

While Facebook considers themselves a tech company, they are increasingly changing the way to world gets its news and media. Espen Egil Hansen – editor-in-chief and chief executive of Aftenposten – called on Zuckerberg to “recognize his role as the ‘the world’s most powerful editor’ of a site that has become a key player in the distribution of news and information globally.” However, by taking on this new role as a faction of the media, Facebook will have to realign its loyalties. Will the “tech” giant change its ways and realign its loyalties to match its role as a member of the media?

Time will tell.

If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say, Don’t Say It At All.

Guest Post by: Bianca Baltazar, a bit beyond bold blogger.

What happened to the idea of respect?

Let me begin by saying I have no desire to use Yik Yak nor have I ever. The only time I’ve ever heard about the app is in multiple classrooms where I have heard nothing positive about it. I do not use Yik Yak because I believe it is just a platform for individuals to post absurd comments without any consequences. Sure, maybe some people do not have the confidence to say their thoughts so Yik Yak gives them a place to do so. However, with all the negativity the surrounds the app, it is clear that being anonymous does not just give people confidence. It gives them a sense of entitlement in the most backwards way possible. Users feel entitled to state their opinion whether or not it affects an individual or a group of individuals. The sad thing, some of the posts can be so hurtful that those who are at the receiving end are overcome with a horrible feeling and there is nothing they can do about it. They feel helpless. It could be their “best friend” typing these horrible words about them but the person will never know. Targeting an individual is one thing but what happens when Yik Yak is used to reinforce stereotypes or further the discrimination against a specific group of people due to their race, gender, or sexual orientation? Nothing happens. That is the point. Those who post distasteful and degrading messages do not have to worry about anything because no one will ever find out who they are…or will they?

This leads me to the idea of privacy. Yik Yak is an app that was founded on the idea of anonymity. On Yik Yak’s website it states, “Share your thoughts with people around you while keeping your privacy.” Also, Yik Yak has said that they will do whatever it takes to ensure that their users stay anonymous. However, in Yik Yak’s Privacy Statement it states that there app requires a telephone number, geo-location data, domains, IP addresses, and that they save ALL the content users shares on the app including images. With that being said, Yik Yak is able to quickly pinpoint an individual who posts an immediate physical threat to others, which goes to show that users are not fully anonymous. It pains me that it takes an immediate physical threat for Yik Yak to intervene. It pains me that Yik Yak even exists.


NEWS FLASH: The invisibility cloak isn’t actually real.

2014 Celebrity Photo Hack. Why It’s On Us.

Guest Post by, Sarah Gentil, student

C GentilThe answer to stopping major privacy violations via leaked photos, whether it be hacking snap chat, iCloud or any other domain, is NOT “just stop taking nudes.” As our realm of privacy gets smaller and smaller, we as people need to realize one thing; we are all… human. WOAH.

We are humans. Humans have a fundamental right to privacy. While social media tries to convince us all that it is our business to know what any one person is doing any time we please, we need to take a step back and realize the hypocrisy of it all. I don’t want the public to know what I’m doing in and with every aspect of my life. But we sure as heck need to know what restaurant Kim Kardashian-West ate at today, what she ordered, who she was with, what she was wearing, etc.

The same can be said for the most recent celebrity iCloud hacks. It is a woman’s right to choose whom she is intimate with. It is a natural human act to have sex. We all, well most, do it at one point or another. Is it any of my business when/where/why/how you (the reader) are intimate with a spouse/partner/other? No, it’s not. It’s also not my job to give you rules on the act either. Why? Because it does not involve me. Sex is a private, consensual matter between you and your partner.

We, as a society, need to change our perceptions on our right to know vs. want to know bases. Caitlyn Dewey proposes the question why did this hack gain so much attention? Outlets like Playboy and other pornographic sites have consenting naked and sexual beings on display all the time and nobody really pays attention to it. To this magnitude, that is. Dewey explains,

So, the proposition remains, why do we as a society choose to take such interest and amazement in such horrific crimes? If we were to pay less attention to celebrity (and civilian) private lives and these type of exploits, and focus on more positive celebrity acts, such as charity work or other philanthropic missions, would hackers even bother to continue these viscous and corruptions? Could we live in a world where privacy is restored and this type of humiliation ceases to exist?

We will never know the answer unless we change. It is not any of our business what a consenting couple does with their intimate time just like it is not any of my business what your social security number is. These are private matters.

Termination by Twitter

By Nicolette Perry, aspiring journalist

All it takes is one; one post, one tweet, one share to get a phenomenon started and once it hits the ground running, there’s no stopping it. The #ALSIceBucketChallenge took the world by storm in a matter of weeks. No one understood exactly how it got started. Yet they found themselves participating in the icy challenge sooner or later. The awareness surrounding the #ALSIceBucketChallenge is all thanks to a little thing called social media.

Take Twitter for example. It definitely has its pros and cons. One major pro, as demonstrated through the viral #ALSIceBucketChallenge, is that Twitter has the ability to reach millions of people in a short amount of time. That right there is the basis for why journalists love to use Twitter. If a major story is developing, they have the ability to send out 140 characters of details to update their loyal followers as it’s happening. Social media has gotten so big that now, many employers hire people who specifically run checks on employees to make sure their online image is clean and respectful, which leads me to the cons of Twitter. (I promise I’m getting to the ethical aspect of all this, just stay with me).

Sometimes we tweet without even thinking twice about it. What may seem funny to me could be taken completely out of context from someone who stumbles upon my tweet. Next thing you know, my tweet spreads like wildfire and I find myself without a job. Just like that. Sometimes it’s considered a just termination, other times its not, which begs the question: What degree of access should employers have over social media?

Personally, I think employers should have limited access to their employees’ social media. I completely understand checking Facebook and Twitter to make sure an employee is professional both inside and outside the office, because each and every employee is a representative of the company. However, too many times people get wrongfully terminated over things that have nothing to do with their job. Damian Goddard is one example of this sort of situation. Goddard is a Canadian sports reporter who was fired after a tweet he sent regarding gay marriage.


It has nothing to do with his career, but yet Goddard finds himself being served a pink slip.

Right now, companies have too much power when it comes to regulating the social media usage of their employees. Twitter doesn’t have to be all business all the time. Part of the fun of social media is sharing ridiculous things, like that amount of people dumping ice water on themselves in order to raise awareness.

Where do we draw the line between regulating and controlling?

Mindfulness and the Creation of Media Content.

Guest Post: Anonymous Student

My first experience with mindfulness occurred when I was 18 and in a rehabilitation hospital for three months. Yes – rehab. Eight other patients and I sat at an arts and crafts table while the doctors passed a bottle of lotion around the room and asked us to squirt some in our hands. They required us to close our eyes and be aware of our bodies and our minds. They told us to be silent and pay attention to how the lotion felt against the curves of our fingers and hands. They asked us to just live in the present moment and be mindful.

I can recall this exercise quite clearly. I remember hearing the sound of my breadth, the ticking of the clock and the slight creak of the other patients shifting in their chairs. But I didn’t get it – how was this supposed to cure my eating disorder? How was this going to help me overcome anorexia?

Though my initial confrontation with mindfulness wasn’t particularly profound, I quickly came to realize that mindfulness could be effective for coping with the stress and anxiety of everyday life. Essentially, mindfulness is an exercise of awareness that requires a person to be acutely alert and conscious of their surroundings and actions. The act of going through through a normal humdrum, familiar routine without a thought otherwise is an example of what mindfulness is not.

So when I learned that we were going to be learning about mindfulness for a college media ethics course, I was transported back to my mindfulness sessions in rehab. Like when I was when first introduced to the concept, I was puzzled – how did mindfulness relate to media ethics?

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But as I dissected the idea more, it made some sense. As members of Marquette University’s College of Communication, my fellow classmates and I are taught how to create or influence the media. Being mindful of all the different events, ideas and trends happening in the world is an essential attribute of an ethical and successful media practitioner. Instead of just contributing to the media hype and the typicality of the news cycle, practitioners need to be aware of the content they distribute to the masses – especially today. It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in the entertainments aspect of the media. Viral videos and trending stories are fun to tweet about or create, however they may not be the issue or story necessary for an informed electorate.

For me, mindfulness is linked to media ethics in this way. Mindfulness can be used in a variety of ways – to combat stress or as a tool to become more present in the current moment. However, it can also be used to create insightful content and investigative reports about issues and events not recognized in the mainstream news media. Mindfulness may not be directly related to media ethics, but the practice of it can be helpful when discerning what stories and ideas deserve to be promoted in the media.